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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

A brick & the wall

In an exclusive interview, Indian skipper Rahul Dravid tells Pradeep Magazine about his journey after he was dropped from the ODI side.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2007 15:52 IST

Rahul Dravid tells Pradeep Magazine about his journey after he was dropped from the ODI side. Excerpts:

From being regarded as not good enough for one-day cricket to leading the Indian side in the world’s biggest tournament is a huge leap. I want to take you back in time, to the beginning of your career... What did it mean to you when people said you were not made for the slam-bang version of the game...

Well, I too did not believe I could have adapted to this kind of stuff. I didn’t know what people were saying. I did understand I needed to improve, to get better. I think this goes for everybody. When you start your career, you are never complete, a finished article.

I think you have certain skills if you have played domestic cricket. But when you are exposed to international cricket and play against experienced players, you have to improve and keep developing. So I knew I had to do that.

And so you did that...

I did not believe that one-day cricket was all about power and hitting sixes and fours. I think in those days, around 1996-97, when Jayasuriya and all these guys started hitting — Sachin and the others — people thought you had to have that kind of ability. But I used to look around and see other people too succeeding in one-dayers, players I knew were not necessarily big sloggers.

They had other skills like rotating the strike and I knew that it was something I could do and develop. So I kept learning, kept adapting, working in the nets, assessing my game and looking at what the team needed. I also batted at different positions — and each position in one-day cricket requires you to have different skills.

What did it feel like when you were dropped from the team? Did it hurt badly or did you take it as one of those things that happen in sport?

It did hurt. No one likes to be dropped, it is not a nice feeling — you don’t get the opportunity to perform as you are sitting somewhere else. But I took it as something of a positive as I was still playing Test cricket. I told myself, ‘Okay, fine, it wouldn’t matter at the end of my career as long as I use these four-five months to improve and then have a long successful career.’ And now it really does not make a difference that I did not play for a short while in a career that has spanned 11 years.

Did you do something to change your approach to one-day cricket, say in the nets? Or in your technique, especially as ODIs are not about technique, they are about destroying it?

<b1>I won’t agree, I won’t agree much with this. I think it remains just a bat and ball game and the basics of the game haven’t changed too much. You need innovations; you need to play according to situations but the basics are the same. You still have to watch the ball, you still have to go fully forward or fully back. That is why you see that all successful Test players are also successful in the limited-overs game.

Looking around, yes, there are some specialists who perform in one-day cricket but are not able to make it to Test cricket... But if you look at all the guys who have succeeded in Test cricket, you will see that — sure, there are some exceptions to the rule — a good Test cricketer is a good one-day cricketer as well. The same can't be said the other way around, though. The most important thing is to have the basic ability.

How much did coming lower down, at 5 and 6, help? There is a perception that you did not want to keep wickets because, perhaps, it was too demanding. But did coming lower down help you grow?

Oh, it definitely helped me grow. I had to learn a completely new system. I was always batting at 3 or 4 and suddenly, the demands from 5-6 were totally different. You come in under pressure situations at lot of times, you come in when the ball is soft and the field is spread out. I had to sit down and think, ‘Well, I’m batting in this position, so what are the things I need to do? I need to find the gaps, look at how I should exploit them, how I should drop and run, how I should learn to bat with other players!’ I had to keep learning and that helped me.

And keeping wickets?

I think there is a misconception that I did not want to keep wickets. It is wrong. Till the 2003 World Cup, I totally believed that we did not have a second wicketkeeper, a wicketkeeper-batsman that was the need of the hour, and was willing to give it my best. Initially, I didn’t fully believe I was good enough.

I didn’t think my wicketkeeping would hold up, so for me it was a learning process, realising that perhaps I could do it. You must understand that I had not done it for 15 years. No one who has kept wickets only at the under-15 level can stand up and say, ‘Yes, yes, I will do a good job at the international level.’

So, I had my doubts... ‘Yeh ho sakta hai ki nahin?’ I did not want to go and make a fool of myself. Once I started doing it, I got a bit of confidence and said, ‘Okay, I can see the results.’ It was helping the team and I was totally sold on it.

But over a period of time, I did feel, especially after the World Cup, that we were not going ahead with me as a wicketkeeper.

I could have improved my ’keeping to a certain level but I was not a natural. I could never have become a specialist, that was obvious to everyone and it was obvious to me.

What we needed was a specialist ’keeper who could bat as well and now the Dhonis and the Karthiks have come into the squad, who are just that.

First Published: Mar 12, 2007 12:35 IST